Monday, December 26, 2011

Training Week 12/19-12/25

M- 7.0 miles up and down Black Cap in 1:12:42, 40:19 to summit, felt a little quicker, but nice run

Tu- 0 pretty dehydrated from the last two days at work. I know I should have done something minimal, but I was pretty drained and figured I would be putting myself into a hole.

W- 2.5 mi wu in 20:41, then 6 x 5 min, 3:00 recovery in Whitaker Woods. Covered 6.8 miles in 45:00 (6:37 pace). Solid workout. 1 mile (8:43) cd. 10.3 total

Th- AM: 6 miles in 57:58 on the streets of Conway Village and the trails behind Kennett Middle School in the dark with Tim Livingston. Roads were pretty slick from all the freezing rain yesterday.

PM: 3.4 miles in 35:14 with Roger around NoCo. Felt like I was bonking! Lunge routine after.

F- AM: 6.0 miles in 59:02 on Corridor 19 snowmobile trail with Tim. 6" of fresh snow!

PM: 4.0 miles in 41:33 w/ Roger around the KHS parking lots. More miles for the bank. Drills and strides after.

Sa- AM:6.4 miles in 1:00:11 for the annual Thanksgiving/Christmas run with Mike Lansing on the Corridor 19 trails. Fun running through the unpacked snow.

PM: 3.0 mi wu in 22:30, then 4 mile tempo in 23:02 (5:45 pace), 2:17 rec, then 8x1:00 hills. Solid workout, nothing to brag about, but just putting the work in. 1.2 mi cd, 11.4 total

Su- 0 was planning on a short morning run, but if Haile Gebrselassie can take Christmas off, then so can I.

Totals: 54.5 miles, 7.97 hours. Nothing spectacular, especially with the two days off, but got in a couple of good workouts and got into a good morning routine. It was good running a couple of mornings with Tim, which we are going to try to make a regular occurrence. It was nice to get some snow too. Not enough for snowshoeing, but the ground is frozen, so hopefully this stuff stays for the winter.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Training Weeks 12/5-12/18


M- 6.0 miles on Hurricane Mt. Rd., 54:55, 1600 ft. gain, nothing special, just wanted to get some climbing in.

Tu- 3.8 mi warm-up w/ Roger, then the plan was to do 5x5:00 on, 3:00 off. I did one in the dark and the rain and called it quits. 5.8 miles total.

W- 0 Chickened out. Was planning on trying the workout again, but still cold rain.

Th- 0 In a pissy mood after a long week at work. Poor me.

F- 0

Sa- 0 Spent the day doing field work, which is a first in my 6+ year career, so I shouldn't complain too much.

Su- 7.3 miles on the Nanamacomuck with Double J in 1:08:38. Felt good to run in the sun!

Totals: 19.1 miles, 2.91 hours, 1600 ft gain. I was pretty much in a foul mood all week and my training shows it. I was struggling with trying to balance work and personal life demands and my running suffered. Ultimately I have to pay the bills, but it doesn't make taking zeroes any easier. The good news is that my crappy week really lit a fire under my ass and set me up for a good comeback this week.


M-AM: Black Cap via Red Tail Trail, 1:14:00, 40:29 to the summit. Started this run in the dark, but it was pretty light by about 10 minutes in. 1700 ft gain.

PM: 3.4 miles on the Kennett track. Holy shit! A double! Just cruised around the track in the dark with the iPod and did 8 strides in the last 1.5 miles.

Tu- 2.2 mi warm-up from home to the Kennett fields on the Rec Trail, then 41:09 (6 miles) of 3:00 on, 3:00 moderate. The pace of the fartlek was nothing spectacular (6:52 pace), but I was happy to get a workout in at 6:30 in the morning.

W- Black Cap via the Red Tail, 1:15:49, 41:24 to the summit. Wow, that was slow. I may have had one too many Shipyard Preludes last night. 1700 ft gain.

Th- 3.9 mi warm-up with Roger, then 8x1:00 Mechanic St. hills with jog down recovery, then 5k tempo in 18:32. Wow, the hill repeats definitely blasted my legs. The tempo was hard as hell. I was only planning on running with Roger, then doing some drills and strides after a long day of field work, but the weather was nice and I felt good doing the drills so I went for it. 400 ft gain.

F- Black Cap via Red Tail, 1:12:38, 39:40 to the summit. Do you see a theme here? I really like this trail, and it's motivating me to get out of bed and get on the trail by 6:30AM, so it will probably be a staple until the snow finally falls. Lunge routine after. 1700 ft gain.

Sa- 3.0 mi warm-up, then 9 mile tempo on the Corridor 19 snowmobile trail sans snow in 58:16 (6:28 pace). Nothing mind boggling, but this 12 mile out and back has 900 ft. of elevation gain. I think I've gone as fast as 6:20's on this, so I am pleasantly surprised how it went considering I felt like poop on the warm-up and the temperature dropped and the wind picked up with every mile. Not to mention that my ass and hamstrings were pretty sore from the lunge routine yesterday.

Su- 9.3 miles in 1:51:29 with Paul Kirsch and Leslie Beckwith on the Trout Pond and Purity Springs trails. My butt was still pretty sore from the lunges. A surprising 1700 ft of elevation gain. Drills and strides after.

Totals: 63.4 miles, 9.63 hours, 8100 ft gain. That was a pretty damn good week. The workouts weren't spectacular, and the mileage is modest by a lot of people's standards, but if I do that every week until June, I will be a monster. The best part about it was that it wasn't that taxing mentally. During the last few years running has seemed like a second job. I have enjoyed a lot of what I do for runs, but it has always been an internal struggle of how much effort do I want to put into this? I know I still have the physical tools and the ambition to still have lofty goals, but the whole hard and consistent work part has eluded me recently. My crappy last week made me realize that if I want to even think about any of my goals, I need to get my act together and make running a real priority. It does not mean that I am going to quit my job or leave my wife in pursuit of PR's, but to make my run the first thing I do every day. It was a great feeling each day this week when I had summited a mountain by the time most people had breakfast. I felt so much better about my training, really enjoyed my run, and it allowed me to enjoy my work and not have to worry about cramming in a workout in the cold and the dark after being physically and mentally drained from a day of field work. It was only one week, but I really think this was the start of something good.

Rainbow from clearcut on Red Tail Trail Friday morning

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Training Week 11/28-12/4

Holy shit, it's a blog post!

M- 0 sick day

Tu- 3.6 mi w/ Roger, 5 strides after

W- 3.6 mi up & down Hurricane Mtn. Rd., 17:00 up, 9:27 pace, drills after

Th- 4.0 wu w/ Roger, then 36 mins (5.6 miles) of 3:00 on, 3:00 off. Averaged 6:27 pace. Nothing spectacular, just busting the rust.

F- 2.0 miles, Lunge Matrix Routine minus the front lunge with a twist. Only had time for this before heading to a work conference in Concord all day.

Sa- Big fat 0. Walked 4 miles with Jess in the woods in the afternoon.

Su- 8 mile tempo on Cherry Mtn. Rd. in Crawford Notch in 53:00 (6:38 pace), doesn't sound that impressive, but it had 800' of elevation gain and 800' of descent. 1.7 mi wu / 1.7 mi cd

Totals: 30.2 miles, 4.03 hours. Nothing spectacular, but it's a start. In the coming weeks and months there will be more of an emphasis on workouts, drills, and strides, and less on long runs and overall mileage. My goal is to get into a good routine of doing the "extras" and slowly adding miles to my easy runs, and possibly some doubles as the winter goes on. I'm really looking forward to some snow.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I'm An Idiot: Pisgah 50k Race Report

Finishing Up by Jess Tilton

Would you jump into a 100m race against Usain Bolt without doing any sprint drills or lifting in the gym? How about racing the Boston Marathon with no marathon pace workouts? No? How about running an ultra against the best trails runners in New England with no real ultra prep? I did, for the second time this year.

After my debacle at Pineland, I knew I wanted to do another ultra, I was just unsure when. My summer schedule had me prepping for fall cross country, and I was enjoying my long tempo runs and track work, but I was still feeling the itch for a long race. The Pisgah Mountain 50k had always interested me as it is hilly and pretty technical, but I had never made it to southwest New Hampshire to test myself on the course. I had an opening in my race schedule and thought this would be the perfect year to try it, as my goal XC race, the New England Championships, was still 7 weeks away. I got in some nice long mountain runs this summer, both solo and a few with Jim Johnson, so I knew I wouldn’t be going into the race totally blind. The one thing I hadn’t done was many long runs on the trails at 7 minute pace, about the pace of the course record at Pisgah (3:42:26), held by David Herr.

Race day dawned nice and cool, but my legs weren’t feeling too fresh. I had no intention of tapering for this race, so I did a mountain run each of the last 2 days and a track workout on Thursday; all of this after a demanding win at the Bradbury Bruiser last weekend. The field was pretty deep and the pack, led by Greg Hammett, went out pretty quick right from the gun. I just tried to settle in and tuck in behind everyone while keeping the leaders in sight. Ben Nephew and I watched as Greg, Dave and Jim pulled away on the first downhills. We came through the first self-serve aid station in 33:08. My legs were starting to wake up as we started climbing some hills. After coming through the first manned aid station (58:05), we climbed a semi-paved road that was reminiscent of Mt. Washington. I was able to close the 20 second gap to the lead group pretty quickly without expending too much energy. I latched on the back of the leaders and just tried to cruise the ups and not turn my quads into hamburger on the descents. We came through the second manned aid station in 1:24:31, where I fumbled with cups of water; my inexperience was showing as the other three guys dusted me up the next climb. I eventually made my way back up to them on the wide snowmobile trail and settled in the back again. We turned onto the Reservoir Trail which was the start of a long climb. I felt pretty good hanging in the back and just tried to conserve energy and stay patient. On the way down we started to spread out a little as Greg and Dave were moving on the downhills and Jim and I hung back. I was still trying to save my quads and Jim’s left hamstring and calf were bothering him. We were content to hang back and run together, for a little while anyways.

After running for nearly two hours I was starting to get the itch to race. Jim was struggling on the ups, so he encouraged me to go after Dave and Greg. I started my pursuit and heard Jim go down hard on one of the snowmobile bridges. I held back a little and we came through the 17 mile aid station together in 2:00:28 (7:05 pace), which I knew was a pretty good clip. Jim and I agreed that we should go after Greg and Dave, so we worked together and tried to close the gap. I was climbing better so I went ahead and closed the gap near the top of Pisgah Ridge. I kind of figured that I wouldn’t see Jim again knowing how he was feeling, but was I wrong!

I ran in the shadow of Greg and Dave in a racing mindset. I was just waiting for the right moment to make a move. As we came through the first Kilburn Loop aid station (2:25:51, 19.9 miles, 7:19 pace), Greg and Dave stopped and I decided to make my move and not stop. Jim had warned me about this loop, as the first half is downhill, but you have to climb back up the other side to get back to the aid station. I opened up a gap on Greg, but Dave stuck with me, pushing the pace on the way down to the low point. I was intent on racing, so I kept the pace up, using a little more energy on the downs than I wanted, but I was committed to racing. I let Dave go by near the bottom of the loop, where I planned to catch back up on the climb like I had been doing all day. After crossing the bridge at the low point, I set to work to catch Dave on the ensuing climb. I steadily closed the gap, but was starting to feel the effort. Next thing I knew I was seeing spots, a sure sign of being in full-on bonk mode.

I was able to keep running, albeit at a slower pace, and kept putting one foot in front of the other as I watched Dave pull away. I know Dave is a pretty strong runner, but I kept playing mind games with myself thinking that if I was bonking he could bonk at any point too. At this point I probably should have taken a gel, but I was getting sick of the sweetness and couldn’t fathom trying to chew my Larabar. I just gutted it out until I got to the aid station.

Jim passed me on the Kilburn Loop, and Greg passed me about a quarter of a mile before the aid station. I stopped to refill my bottle with water and eat my apple pie Larabar. Ben caught me here and refilled his bottle with Coke. Before I knew it he was gone and up the next hill. I hit the aid station in 3:06:31 (25.4 miles), covering the last 5.5 miles at 7:23 pace; quick, but skewed by the early downhill. There would be no more 7 minute miles in my future.

When Greg passed me, he told me there were only 3 more climbs left. I tried to pick them off one by one. I managed to run the first two, but had to walk at the top of the second one. I kept sucking down water and started to regain a little energy. I got passed by Dane Mitchell, Brian Rusiecki and Chris Hayhurst, but I was confident I could get to the finish line. It is not a great way to finish a race, but I felt a lot better than I did at the 47 mile mark at Pineland, so I just kept moving forward.
I hit the state park gate in around 3:49, which is about 1.3 miles from the finish. I knew the rest of the course was on road, so I just tried to stay smooth. I was a little surprised at how well I was moving, so I tried to keep the effort up to the line. I rounded the last corner knowing that a sub 4:00 clocking was going to happen, but I kept the tempo up and crossed the line in 4:00:25 in 8th place. I was disappointed to lose 18+ minutes to Dave in the last 10 miles (last 5.4 miles at 9:37 pace!), but I ran hard and smart most of the time and learned more about how my body handles ultra distances.

Lessons learned: Don’t race, just survive. I think I still would have bonked, but I should not have made a move at 20 miles. I should have just tried to outlast the guys I was racing. I was probably the best climber of the group, and there was a lot of climbing in the last 11 miles. I should have played to my strengths. I also need to figure out nutrition and hydration. I don’t even take water in road half marathons, so I’m pretty clueless in these longer races. Practice makes perfect. I also need to respect how hard these races are when you have good ultra training under your belt. They’re even harder when you’ve been training for races that you hope to be running at low five minute pace. The guys that do this stuff on a regular basis are tough dudes, as shown by some great performances out there today. 5:00 mile repeats don’t do shit for you when you’re weaving all over the place at 9 minute pace due to a lack of fuel in your system. I’m looking forward to doing another ultra, but plan on training for it next time.

Monday, September 5, 2011

2011 Mt. Washington Road Race

Me, Dan Princic and Justin Freeman around 4.5 miles. Photo from the Manchester Union Leader

This race report (among others) is long overdue, but I am on vacation and finally have the time and ambition to write them. Plus Double J has been the only one hounding me for them, so I thought I would make him wait.

After the interesting experience that was Pineland, I tried to rest my body up for the coming mountain races. I recovered surprisingly well, but still managed to record a DNF in the USATF-NE Track Championships 10,000m after 5k. I was starting to worry about Washington after recording two DNFs in a row. I knew I was in good climbing shape though, and had a plan to go out super conservative and see how many people I could pick off. In previous years I had planned on going out easy, but still managed to come through the mile in 6:20 and blowing up a mile later. After talking to Dave Dunham, I decided I would hang back with him through the mile as he was shooting for something in the 6:50-7:00 range. That sounds slow for someone trying to run in the 1:05-1:07 range, but I’ve actually run a 1:04:41 off a 7:00 in training WAY back in 2006. Dave brought me and Double J through in 6:55, right on target.

Going into the race, I wasn’t really sure what I was capable of, but thought 1:07 would be a reasonable goal and would put me in the running for the Crossan Cup, which is awarded to the top runner from NH each year. With the likes of Kris Freeman, last year’s Crossan Cup winner and multi-time Olympic cross country skier; Justin Freeman, Kris’ older brother who also skied in the Torino Olympics and who has been setting the roads on fire this year; and Double J, who has been steadily improving his Mt. Washington finishes every year, it would be a tough task, but a solid race.

After that first mile Double J and I started squeezing down on the throttle and caught quite a few guys who went out too fast. We caught up to the Freemans around 2.5 miles, who were running stride for stride. I tucked in behind Justin for a little bit and realized we were at the top of the heap for NH runners, while running close to the top 10. I took the lead from Justin right before halfway and just tried to run smooth. I knew Justin’s not the type of guy you’re going to run away from. He’s a strong runner physically, and mentally tough as shown by the fact that he made an Olympic team. I slowly just tried to turn the wick up as we climbed above tree line on the 4-5 mile grade. This is my least favorite part of the course and my splits were a little slow, but for once I didn’t care as I was more concerned about RACING. Justin passed me back just after the 5 mile mark on the flat section before Cragway. He opened up about a 10-meter gap pretty quickly. I did my best to just hang on until we started climbing again. On the way to the 6-mile mark I didn’t lose any ground, but I wasn’t closing the gap either. Something changed though when we approached the sharp hairpin before the cow pasture. I closed on Justin pretty quick as we climbed one of the most heinous pieces of road you’ll ever see. I pulled up alongside Justin, offered some encouragement and took off towards the cow pasture. I thought I might have the lead I would need to the finish, but I made a mistake passing Justin too fast, too soon. As soon as we hit the flat on the cow pasture, Justin powered back and dropped me like a bad habit. I tried to go with him, but once again the extended flat section was my downfall. As all of this unfolded, we caught Eric Blake, who was having a tough day with some hamstring troubles. I tucked in with Eric trying to regain my composure. Eric said “I think we’re 9th and 10th” and immediately I settled. Looking back I’m disappointed I didn’t really try to go after Justin in the last mile, but knowing that I was in the top 10 for the first time since 2007 I just wanted to make it to the finish. Eric and I still worked together and pushed to the finish. Eric managed to outkick me going up the wall, and I crossed the line in 1:06:59 in 10th place while holding off a hard charging Francis Burdett. The time was my fastest since 2008 (1:06:30), so despite a not-so-perfect prep, I managed to pull off a decent race. Certainly much better than a DNF. It was good to mingle with friends and competitors at the finish. I felt a huge relief after the race. It was like a year of bad feelings about the race had finally been cleared up. All the training I put in and the DNF that resulted really made me wonder if I wanted to train anymore. I was wondering if I really had any of the skill and drive that I had 5 or 6 years ago that got me onto two US teams and helped me run some fast times in the mountains and on the roads. A sub 1:07 is nothing for me to quit my job over and become a full time athlete, but it gave me a glimmer of hope that I still have some physical ability left, even when I half ass my training.

Me and Eric dueling to the finish. Photo by Roger Morse

Monday, May 30, 2011

Pineland Farms 47 Miler

47 miles is a long way to run. Too bad the race was 50 miles. That's 47 more miles than I was planning on this weekend though.

Saturday I woke up and surfed the internet as I usually do before my lovely wife wakes up. This also gives me a chance to hatch hair-brained schemes before she can talk me out of them. I was quite jealous reading various blog posts about people who would be racing at the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival, a race that I have wanted to do, but was always too long and too close to Mt. Washington. What changed this year? Nothing, other than the fact that I've been thinking a lot about ultras for the last year and that my love affair with Mt. Washington has slowly started to wain after years of disappointing results. What better way to mix things up and try and run a 50 miler 3 weeks before my big goal race for the year?!

I packed all my stuff the night before and set my alarm for 3:30AM to allow for the 90 minute drive and ridiculously early 6:00AM start. Later in the day I was grateful for the early start. Arriving at Pineland, the clouds/fog were still blocking out the sun and were keeping things on the cool side. The air was humid, but manageable. After exchanging the usually pre-race pleasantries with racers and race crew, we were off. A group of 5 of us including Ben Nephew, Brian Rusiecki and myself ran easy and relaxed the first 3+ mile loop (23:44). My initial goal was to run 8:00 pace (6:40), but I had no idea what that should feel like and with the undulating terrain, I figured I would run easy with the pack and figure it out as I went. Luckily the pace was manageable and we just clipped along ticking the kilometers away. Brian, Ben and I took turns at the front chatting along, while another guy, Martin, ran with us, often leading, but he seemed to be laboring on the hills. After finishing the campus loop on out first 25k lap, Ben, Brian and I opened up a little of a gap on Martin. At this point I was getting tired of running with my handheld water bottle, so I ditched it at my drop bag and kept running. Pineland is a great race to do this as there are so many aid stations you are never far from food or water. Doing this allowed me to run a more efficient, natural stride. The downside is that I would need to slow down or stop at almost every aid station.

On the Oak Hill side of the 25k loop Ben and I started to open a bit of a gap on Brian on the hills, and just kept running a smart pace. Near the 24k mark Ben was nearly taken about by a flying turkey that took off from the tall grass next to the course! After our adrenaline returned to normal we passed through the start/finish of the first loop in 1:50:51 (7:09 pace). 8:00 pace would have been 2:04. "Looks like I'm all in now" I thought.

Lap 2 Ben and I worked together doing some drafting and taking turns at the front to try to open the gap on Brian. Neither on of us felt like we were killing ourselves, but thought it would be good to put some time on Brian, as he smoked a 6:02 here a few years ago. I was feeling pretty good on the climbs when leading, but lagging when Ben was in front. I have problems with this even in 5k races though. I have a mental problem when it comes to conserving energy. It came back to bite me today.

After entering the Oak Hill side for a second time I was starting to know what an ultra feels like. Ben and I were still running at a good clip, but the legs were tiring. They should have been though, we had been running for over 30 miles. The rolling hills on the Oak Hill side are a bit longer than the ones on the campus loop, and are more my style as I just get in my low gear and go. On the way up the big climb I started to open a gap on Ben and decided it was time to make a move. 32 miles into a 50 miler seemed early, but I was feeling good and the change of pace felt good as I put in a good surge to try and drop Ben. My biggest fear was to be running with Ben at mile 45 then get dropped and have no response.

I kept the pace steady and finished the second loop in 1:54:24, about 3 minutes slower than the first loop, but still a pretty decent pace. 4:09 total (7:13 pace) had elapsed, and I knew if I could scruff out a 2:00 for the last lap I would run a 6:09. Pretty damn fast for a 50 miler, and especially my first one. Unfortunately I still had 15 miles to go.

I knew the last lap would be more of a mental test than anything. I hadn't seen Ben for over 3 miles, hadn't seen Brian for over an hour and just planned on running one kilometer at a time. The k's are marked at Pineland and can be a blessing and a curse at the same time. One foot in front of the other is what I thought. My spirits were still up and I was tired, but still moving at a respectable pace. I just thought "stay ahead of Ben". I took my time at each aid station, knowing that the gap might shrink, but I knew hydration and calories were important at this point. One thing I did not do a good job of was getting sodium into my system. The sun had broke through on the last lap and I was crusted in salt.

I used the runners that I was lapping from the 25k, 50k and 50 miler to keep me moving forward and was pretty confident of holding on and winning the whole thing in my first ultra. The aid station at mile 45 is where things started to unravel though. I stopped for a couple cups of water and a fig newton. I took my time and stretched my quads, which were fatigued, but holding up ok. Local trail racer Paul Young said "Nice job! How long were you leading?" I exclaimed "I'm leading right now!" He informed me that Brian had just blown by the aid station. I looked down the trail and there he was, blasting down the doubletrack ski trail. Talk about taking the wind out of your sails. I knew with the way I was feeling and the pace he was moving at that I wasn't going to catch him, but I wanted to finish this thing and try to get a second place finish. I went at it, but my pace wasn't much faster than the runners that I had been lapping before. Before I knew it my stride had shortened and I had to walk for the first time during the whole race. I just tried to keep moving forward to keep my quads from locking up. My breathing was fine, I wasn't lightheaded and my energy levels were up, but my legs were not responding. After a little walking I was able to run again, but after pounding down the steep switchback on Gloucester Hill, my quads reached their limits. I continued to walk until I couldn't stay in a straight line. I sat on the side of the trail and stopped my watch, about 3 miles shy of the finish line in 6:09:25. 47 miles in the book, but no ambition to finish. I could have walked/crawled the last 3 miles, but I wasn't interested in prolonging the recovery that I would have to undertake after this silly idea. I awaited a ride in the sagwagon back to the start area. Many runners kindly offered me assistance while I waited, but I felt fine other than not being able to move my legs.

As I type this I am excited about running another ultra later this year; now prepared with some good and not-so-good experiences. Salt is your friend, especially on a hot day. Don't run away from the lead pack at 32 miles, especially when it is your friend and teammate. The Inov8 X-Talon 212's may seem like a light shoe, but they worked great for me on the mix of packed gravel ski trails and high-mowed grass.

A special thanks to Ian and Erik for putting on a great race. And thanks to all the Trail Monsters, acidotic Racing crew and White Mountain Milers for cheering me on from the sidelines and on the course.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Training Week 5/9-5/15

M- 10.9 miles in Effingham up and over and around Green Mountain with Jim Johnson in 1:27:07. The climb up Green Mt. is only 1.3 miles, but gains 1100 ft. It took us 16:06 to hit the summit. The rest of the run was down the old warden's trail on the back and looping around the mountain on the hilly roads. Solid run. 1600 ft gain.

Tu- 5.0 miles in Whitaker Woods in 46:00. Was planning on doing a 5k tempo then 5x2 min hills. Was not feeling it after the first mile so I decided to save the effort for tomorrow.

W- 11.0 miles on Mt. Washington in 1:50:36. Ended up doing a progression type run up to the 6 mile mark. I tried to slowly pick up the effort each mile. I was planning on going to 5, but I was feeling strong and the weather was nice so I went to 6 to see what I had left in the tank. Pretty happy with this one. Splits: 1= 8:43 2= 8:58 3= 8:56 4 8:46 5= 9:08 6= 9:01. I also wore the heart rate monitor on this one. I noticed that my heart rate peaked (183 just after the 4 mile mark, right as my legs started to feel the effort. After that I was working hard, but the heart rate never go up that high again.

Th- AM: 5.2 miles in 54:24 with Paul behind Wal-mart. We were both pretty dead from Washington so we ran super easy.

PM: 4.5 miles on Downes Brook Trail in 1:01:27. Nice trail that I've driven by a bunch of times but have never run. Saw a pine marten on my way out. 600 ft. gain

F- Aussie Quarters (200m in 50-55 sec, then 400m in 70-71 sec. x8) 16:36 for 4800m (5:32 pace) 45 73 51 73 52 73 50 74 51 74 49 74 53 74 47 72. Pretty good workout. I would have liked the 400s to be a little quicker, but I haven't done a lot of fast stuff yet and I could still feel the downhill from Washington in my legs. 2.0 wu, 1.0 cd.

Sa- 5.2 miles on Carter Ledge Trail in 1:13:28. 38:49 to Carter Ledge. Another cool trail that I have ever run. No view today, but I will definitely go back on a clear day. 1600 ft gain.

Su- 19.6 miles 2:04:50 (6:22 pace) 5 miles down from the top of the Kanc, then 9.6 mile tempo at 6:01 pace, then 5 mile climb to top of Kanc at 7:02 pace. The climb was a 9 sec PR. 1600 ft gain.

Totals: 67.4 miles, 10.0 hours, 9200 ft gain. That is a pretty solid week. 3 good workouts, some good climbing and some good mileage. Not much more to say about that!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Training Week 5/2-5/8

M- 4.0 miles in 39:08. I was running out at Rob Brook and came about 75 ft. from two moose in the swamp. I stood there and watched them for a few minutes. I farted (as I have been known to do on occasion) and two seconds later the bull moose was looking at me with his snout up in the air. I stood still for a few minutes until I was sure he wasn't going to charge me.

Tu- 0 Felt aweful.

W- 7.4 miles in 1:19:04. Black Cap via Kettle Ridge, down Red Tail. Ran easy with Ryan Triffitt. 46:10 to the summit. Felt much better. Neither one of us was in the mood to run when we started, but it turned into a pretty nice run in the rain. 1700 ft. elevation gain.

Th- Spent the day helping my mom move, then officiating my specialty, the triple jump, at the KHS track meet. I didn't start my workout until 6:30. The plan was 6 x 1 mile @ 10k pace, 3:00/0.25 mi rec. 5:09 5:08 5:09 5:10 5:12 5:06 (5:09 avg.) Finally a track workout I'm happy with. The speed still isn't coming very easy, but I'm getting stronger on these. I was really happy to dig in and finish with a 5:06. 2.0 wu, 0.5 cd (9.5 total)

F- 5.4 miles in 1:07:21! on the Great Gulf Trail. This was one of those days where I wanted to run, but needed to do something different. I wasn't up for a ton of climbing, but wanted some views. The GGT is rocky and not the best trail to run on, but I always enjoy my time on it. I love the view from the Bluff looking up towards the Northern Presidentials. 1000 ft. elevation gain.

Sa- 0 More moving.

Su- 0 Hiked 4+ miles with Jess up Mt. Potash and planned on running the Kanc home (18+ miles), but I was pretty wiped by the time we got back to the car.

Totals: 26.3 miles, 4.20 hours, 2700 ft. gain. I needed a down week after Muddy Moose. I wasn't particularly sore, but pretty tired. With all the moving I needed to do, I knew if would be a good week to take it easy. It was good to get a good climb in with Ryan and get in a good track workout.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Training Week 4/25-5/1 & Muddy Moose

M- 6.0 miles up Rattlesnake, Middle and Peaked Mts. 1:13:57. 1800 ft gain. Still feeling a little sluggish, but climbs got better the longer I went.

Tu- 8.0 miles up and down Mt. Washington Auto Road in 1:15:55. Ran first mile (0.9) with Paul in 9:00, then tried to pick up the effort every mile after. Ran 9:31 9:30 9:24. Still some snow on the road after 2.5 miles. It was actually warmer at 4 miles than it was at the base due to a nice temperature inversion. 2300 ft gain.

W- 0 Visited my grandmother in the hospital. She had a heart attack Tuesday night, but it doing much better. She's a pretty amazing woman. Has a heart attack at 90 years old and you would barely know it talking to her.

Th- 6 x 1 mile at 10k pace, 3:00/400m recovery. 5:02 5:06 5:07 5:09 5:11 5:11 (5:08 average). Much better workout than last week, but still concerned that I'm tailing off at the end of the workout. My legs finally feel like they're getting back under me. 3.0 wu, 0.75 cd.

F- 7.4 miles up Black Cap via Kettle Ridge, down Red Tail, 1:24:21. 50:00 to summit. Wow that was slow. I just tried to run easy, and the time showed it. I've never run it that slow even with snow on the ground. It goes to show that I'm not recovering as quick as I was last spring, but I'm putting miles and workouts in the bank and will get there. 1700 ft gain.

Sa- 7.9 miles in 1:12:58 on the Lower Nanamacomuck Ski Trail (one of the top 25 trails in America in the recent Runner's World Trail Guide!) with the Wenunchus, Wenonah and Falls Pond Loops. Great view across Falls Pond that I've never seen. Need to go back with a camera. 6 strides near end. 600 ft of gain surprisingly.

PM: Nice 4 plus mile hike with Jess in the Dry River Valley.

Su - Muddy Moose 14 Mile Trail Race. 1st place, 1:28:51, 29 sec course record, 1:29 PR. I am pretty happy with this one. This was the first trail race I ever did way back in 2004. I didn't believe in trail shoes back then because they were all too bulky at that time, so I went with marathon racing flats. That didn't slow me down at all. I ended up running 1:30:20 though. Flash forward to 2011. My spring racing has been less than stellar, but I knew I wanted to try to crank out a good one at Seven Sisters, so I finally got my ass in gear and got some decent training in. Unfortunately I would not have the time to travel to Western Mass. this weekend, so I opted to head back to Muddy Moose, where I hadn't raced since 2005. I had scanned the results from the last few years and noticed that Olympic nordic skiers Justin and Kris Freeman had run the race. I knew Justin was planning on running the James Joyce 10k after reading his blog, but I hoped maybe Kris would be racing to get in a good workout. I also knew after looking at the old results that Dmitry Drozdov had set a blistering course record of 1:29:20 in 2006, 1 minute faster than my best time. His time was in the back of my mind all week, but I wasn't sure if I would be that fit. I figured I might be able to run in the 1:32-1:33 range right now.

After arriving at the race, RD Fergus Cullen informed us that the course was "relatively dry". Relative being the key term. This race is usually a slop fest, but still very runnable in many spots. I've average 6:30's on a fast day, but the pace probably ranges from low 5's on the gravel road to 10+ on the escarpment.

From the gun I took an early lead and just tried to run smooth. The first 3/4 mile is on road and xc trail, so it's easy to run too fast at the start, but I knew I didn't want to have a repeat of The Rivah by blowing up on the way in, so I just tried to run smart. I came through the 2 mile mark in 12:20 (12:09 in 2005), so I knew I was running a good pace without going out recklessly. I just tried to open it up on the gravel road knowing it is the best opportunity to get some decent running in before hitting the escarpment and the muddy snowmobile trails. I turned onto the escarpment at 20:00, checking my split knowing this would help me on my way back.

Smooth was the name of the game today as I just tried to run hard but smart the whole time. The snowmobile trails were muddy, but it was easy to pick a line that would keep your momentum up. I went through one waist deep puddle a little before the 5 mile water stop, but that was the wettest part of the race. I came through the water stop in 31:00, which gave me another marker for the way back.

The middle third of the race was a lot hillier than I remembered. Luckily I am a mountain runner and I just put it in low gear and tried to be as efficient as possible. Today I was happy with my climbing and my body awareness. I knew exactly where to push and where not to. The beaver dam loop wasn't as flooded as bad and the rocky climb after it wasn't too muddy.

When I came back through the 5 mile water stop again in 58:00 I knew I had 31:20 to equal Dmitry's course record. I knew that would be tough as I ran the first 5 in 31:00 and that would be a near even split on tired legs, returning mostly uphill and running through muddy trails that had already been trampled by nearly 200 people. I had never even or negative split in the past, but I thought I'd try like hell anyways.

I was definitely getting tired, but I still tried to run smooth and my legs were holding up ok. I knew the mile plus gravel road section would be key. As I entered the road from the escarpment I knew I would have to bank some time, as the last two muddy miles are usually trashed. I opened up the stride again just wanting to get to that snowmobile trail. When I finally got to it I looked at my watch and did some mental math and knew I had about 13 minutes to break the record. The 12:20 on the way out was controlled, but I knew this would still be a tall order. I came back form my 12:09 in 2005 with a 14:30! I put my head down anyway.

I was definitely having a hard time staying upright on the muddy stuff, but I knew it would be over soon. I have never been so happy to see a road when I turned onto the gravel near the gold course. When I hit the pavement with a 1/4 mile to go I actually put in a decent kick to cross the line in 1:28:51. I was completely exhausted at the finish, but completely satisfied.

3.0 wu, 2.0 cd.

Totals: 59.3 miles, 8.64 miles, 6400 ft gain. Pretty solid week. Nothing spectacular, but more to put in the log book. As you can tell I am very happy with Sunday's race. I still have some work to do, but now there is at least a glimmer of hope that I am getting fit again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Training Week 4/18-4/24

M- 3.4 mile tempo in 21:13 (6:14 pace, 19:13 for fun run course), then 8x1 min hill repeats (~0.15 miles=2.4 miles) in 16:43 (6:58 pace). Pretty good workout. The tempo looks slow, but that's the same fun run course that I run 16:40 for 5k all out. I tried to keep the pace quick on the downs to simulate what Cranmore is going to be like. I was running about 58-60 seconds on the downs.

Tu- AM: 3.2 miles in 52:38 on Whitton Ledge trails, some bushwhacking
PM: 5.0 miles on snow-covered Sawyer River Rd. with Roger in 1:02:15

W- 10.3 miles at White Lake State park with DoubleJ. Easy run for him, felt like a tempo effort for me. 1:21:45

Th- 0 Went to my aunt's funeral in Lebanon.

F- 1:05:26 up and down Tuckerman Ravine Trail, 6.0 miles. 39:31 to Left Gully. Felt like garbage from my bad nutrition choices all day.

Sa- 6 x 1 mile at 10k pace, 3:00/0.25 mile recovery. 5:18 5:18 5:19 5:24 5:24 5:25 (5:21 avg.) That would be a pretty bad 10k for me. It was snowing and cold the whole time, but I should be able to run faster than that.

Su- 13.0 miles on the Moat Brook singletrack in 2:08:05. Pretty tired on the run, but felt good to get out on some of my favorite trails FINALLY. Still some snow left over from yesterday's snowstorm. 4 mile hike up and down Peaked Mt. with Jess in the afternoon.

My beautiful bride and I on Peaked Mt. Photo by Steve Smith

Totals: 56.5 miles, 8.8 hours. Not a bad week, but nothing spectacular. I've averaged 57 miles the last 4 weeks, and I think I'm feeling the cumulative effects of finally getting back into some consistent training. The workouts have been pretty ugly though. Saturday was pretty tough conditions, but I thought I could average 5:15's. I'm just glad I finished all 6. My legs had no pop. I was probably pretty dehydrated from work on Friday too. I have a hard time believing I'm in that bad of shape after a solid winter of snowshoe racing, but maybe I need a reality check.

Speaking of reality checks, it looks like I will be running the Muddy Moose 14 Mile Trail Race on Sunday instead of 7 Sisters. I really wanted to run 7 Sisters, but I've got a lot going on right now with family stuff and can't spend a day and half out in Western Mass. Maybe next year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Training Week 4/11-4/17

I have nothing else to post, so I thought I'd throw this up.

M- 8.0 miles in 1:20:04. Up and down Black Cap, then added on 2 miles on the flats to get 5 strides in. 1700 ft gain

Tu- 4.0 miles in 33:57 before work. Planned on getting in the 6 x 1 mile after work but officiated a track meet until 8PM.

W- 5 x 1 mile (+/-HMP), 3:00 rec. 5:32 5:28 5:32 5:37 5:45 (5:35 avg.) Not a very good workout. Cold and rainy and in the dark. Didn't start warm-up until 7:30 PM. Just tried to run relaxed and the times showed it. Didn't bother with a 6th one. 1.25 wu, 0.25 cd.

Th- AM: 6.4 miles with Paul in 1:01:49 on Redstone Quarry singletrack FINALLY.
PM: 4.75 miles in 54:51 with Roger on Bear Notch Rd., 650 ft. gain

F- 5.5 miles 56:54 at Bradbury State Park in Pownal, ME. I had a surveying conference in Freeport and met up with Ian Parlin and Jeff Walker. Pretty hilly.

Sa- Had all day to run, but didn't get out. Got a 2 mile walk in the woods on the Wilderness Trail with Jess.

Su- 22.4 miles in 3:50:55 in the Green Hills. 3000 ft of elevation gain. Nice run, but tired from the get-go. Just tried to stay smooth on the way back. Last 8+ miles were mostly flat (thank god).

Totals: 58.8 miles, 9.55 hours, 5350 ft gain.

Good to get some volume in, especially where I was pretty busy with a lot of work and after-hours stuff this week too and after weeks of 53 and 61 miles. I should have got some type of workout in yesterday, but after my crappy workout Wednesday, I wasn't too motivated. I'm a little concerned with the mile repeats. The last 3 weeks of them have been less than stellar. I have been trying to go by effort, which has been fine, but they haven't been that fast or very consistent. I've been trying to ignore looking at splits while I do them.

This week's schedule has me switching the mile repeats to 10k pace, which I had penciled in as 4:55-5:00. I think that is a bit optimistic right now. I think there is some fitness there, but am wondering if I should start with 5:10s this week. I think with some good, consistent work in the next few months I can do some good things, but I'm definitely cutting it close.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Snowshoe Nationals + Road Trip + New Bedford = Feeling Like Dog $hit

Well, March was an interesting month. After a solid winter of snowshoe racing I headed out to Wisconsin for the National Snowshoe Championships. I was shooting for a top 5. Jim Johnson and Tim Van Orden were my travelling companions for this race. Without getting into too many details, Jim got 8th, I got 9th and Tim got 13th. I had a pretty good race, but it wasn't what I was hoping for. The race went out pretty hard, and my heart rate was through the roof for the first two miles. Not my style of racing. I was able to recover after that, but could never real Jim in. No replay of Sidehiller or Northfield here. The course had a lot of rolling hills, but no big climbs and no singletrack. Not my type of course, but fair and fun nonetheless. After the race I enjoyed some good brews from the Angry Minnow Brewery at the bar of the Lakewoods Resort where the race was held. They had a pretty good oatmeal stout and a honey wheat.

The bar at Lakewoods

After a leisurely run Sunday morning, TiVo, Double J and I started the 3 hour drive back to Minneapolis to catch our flights. Due to a few too many stops, Jim and I missed our boarding by 7 MINUTES. Delta wasn't able to get us on another flight, so we opted to do what any other sane people would do: we rented a car to Boston.

Up to this point, my longest road trip ever had been the 7 hour slog from NoCo to Syracuse for last year's Snowshoe Nationals. That would be about the length of our first stint on this trip. Jim took the first leg after we loaded up on Taco Bell and made a provisions shop at a Wal-Mart somewhere in Wisconsin. We loaded up on gas, coffee and beef jerky and changed drivers just before we hit Chicago just after 11PM. I usually don't like driving at night, but I had the next 6 hours of Midwest interstate to get me accustomed to it. The roads were pretty clear, the weather was good, and Jim stayed awake and kept spinning the tunes like he was at The Red Door circa 2005. I made it to just before Cleveland before handy over the reins of our trusty Focus to JJ.

The scenic Midwest at 2AM

The only thing I didn't eat

We had planned on doing 6 hours/full gas tank shifts the whole way, but after we hit some ice east of Cleveland and Jim started telling incoherent jokes, we decided to switch it up when we got tired, which only took about an hour and a half. We grabbed some breakfast at a Mickey D's and headed for New York.

I managed one more shift across NY just west of Syracuse, where we stopped for gas and a second breakfast of Arby's. I am such a bad eater on the road. This is when Jim realized we were bhind our rental car return time by about 7 minutes according to our GPS. Not again! Here is where Jim took off like a man possessed. We knew driving 85 all the way to Boston would not be a good idea, but 5 or 10 over the speed limit should get us there on time. Jim drove the last 270 miles with no stops while I watched out for cops and played navigator.

Buffalo? WTF?

We arrived at Logan at 3:36 PM, 4 minutes before our return time! All that was left was a 30 minutes train ride to Norwood to pick up my car, then 3+ hours back to drop Jim off in Salem and make it home. We stopped for an awesome dinner at Brothers Deli in Wakefield, MA then I dropped Jim in Salem. I felt ok before heading out, but definitely hit the wall north of Concord. I took a half hour nap at the Meredith McDonald's before finishing the trip to North Conway. I was on the move for about 35 hours. Not cool.

DoubleJ at "touchdown" at Logan

I couldn't waste a perfectly good beard

The only way to follow that up was to barely run the next week, then run ther New Bedford Half Marathon on Sunday! I threw down a stinker running a 1:14:42 for 70th place. I have run 1:10:00 for 9th place there in the past. My greatest accomplishment of the weekend was sporting a sweet handlebar mustache.

I'm finally starting to feel like a human being again. I'm starting to get my mileage up and getting some workouts again. I know I'm in decent shape after this winter. I just need to get back on track.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Northeast Snowshoe Federation Championships 02/26/11

3/4 mile in thinking "Will I ever catch them?"
Photo by Scott Mason

"Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan." Admiral Painter, "Hunt for Red October"

I'm not Russian, but I did have a plan for Saturday's race. After running the course with DD on Friday, I knew that the course was killer and patience was going to be key. The course featured two big climbs totaling 1500' of ascent and 1500' of descent in 5.4 miles of mostly singletrack. This would be a mountain race on snowshoes.

I knew with this race being the first Northeast Snowshoe Federation Championship it would draw a stout field, and it did not disappoint. CMS/Dion/Inov8 teammate Jim Johnson was there as usual, along with DD, Tim Van Orden, Judson Cake, Ryan Kelly and the numerous runners of Acidotic Racing. This would be a pretty deep field, then you add in the likes of new snowshoer and 1:07 half marathoner Nick Wheeler to the mix, and it just gets deeper.

My plan for the beginning of the race was to hang back knowing that a few people would be more than willing to take the lead on the groomed first 800m of the race. Not long after the gun went off I found myself in 4th place behind JJ, Nick and Judson. JJ and Nick were probably 10 seconds ahead of me as we rounded the pond near the finish line. I was already ceding a sizable lead in the first half mile of the race, but I knew were weren't even close to being done.

I stayed behind Judson as we entered the singletrack and slowly started to climb. I was content to stay behind him for a little bit as we were running a decent pace and I could still see the leaders not too far ahead. When we crossed the first groomed trail Judson let me by and I started my pursuit of the leaders. The first climb was close to 1.5 miles long, so I knew I could take my time and still cut into their lead, assuming that I was climbing any faster. I was struggling to climb a little at first, wondering if the 10,000 ft of climbing I had accumulated during the week were catching up to me. I kept taking small steps and before I knew it I was right on the back of Nick. I was able to pass him part way up the Pipeline Trail, and I set my sights on Double J.

Jim was just a few seconds up on me as we started the day's first descent. Jim usually blows my doors off on this stuff, and today was no exception. I lost sight of him fairly early and about half way down Nick rolled up on me and now I was fighting for second. Luckily the trail flattened out a little before big climb #2. Nick was doing a good job of dogging me and I thought he was ready to pass me as we started the climb. I asked him if he wanted to go by and he emphatically said "No!" I put my head down and kept grinding.

The second climb consisted of two parts: the first part was pretty long and made you think that you had finished the climb when you finished the first part, but in reality you were only about halfway done. The second part almost took you to the same elevation as the first big climb. About 2/3rds of the way up the 2nd big climb I was able to reel Jim in. He graciously let me go by and tucked in behind me after I gave him some "encouragement". I didn't want to see his race fold here, even if it meant him recovering and blowing my doors off on the last descent.

After finishing the climb we started the descent from Rose Ledge at the 4 mile mark. I did my best to bomb down the twisty, crunchy singletrack, especially when Jim told me that Nick was gaining on us. I thought about letting Jim by to lead us down, but there was no place to do so without losing a ton of time, plus I didn't want to give up the lead. No too long after that Jim took a digger reminiscent of last weekend's race at Kingman Farm, but he popped back up and got right on my heels. At this point Nick was running in our back pocket and we had a 3-person freight train bombing down the trail.

1/4 mile from finish thinking "When are they going to catch me?!"
Photo by Scott Mason

Luckily for me there was one more speed bump on the way to the finish. A cruel, short little climb reared it's ugly head right before the powerline section. Knowing this was my last chance to open a gap, I hammered it with everything I had. I opened up 4 seconds on Jim and ran for dear life after that. The last little climb was after the bridge at 5 miles. I passed Scott Mason wanting to look back, but I didn't dare. I burst out of the singletrack and did my best Carl Lewis impression. I was able to glance over my shoulder as I rounded the pond. I maintained my 4 second gap to the finish. I gave an uncharacteristic fist pump as I crossed the line. I was pretty psyched to run a smart race and win in a really solid field.

Post race I bonked pretty hard after doing a road cool down with the Turtles, JJ and Nick. It's kind of ironic that I get all of my road miles while warming up and cooling down at snowshoe races.

My next race will be the National Snowshoe Championships in Cable, WI on March 12. The course is going to be flat and fast. Not my strong suit, but I have two weeks to prepare and I have a hell of a base to start with.

1 7:54
2 10:16
3 7:08
4 10:15
5 7:49
0.4 2:24 (6:00 pace)

45:49 (8:29 pace)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snowshoe Run Up Mt. Washington 02/23/11


Now that I have that out of the way, on to the story. I wouldn't call this a race effort, but it was one hell of a workout. Every winter I look forward to trying to get up Washington, but only if the weather cooperates. One of the advantages of living up here is that if we get a nice day, whether it's a Tuesday or a Sunday, I can usually get up the mountain. This week is my annual winter vacation with Jess, which really means I run as much as my body can take and try to ski or snowshoe with her in between the madness. I love you!

The weather on Wednesday dawned cold, but clear. Wind speeds on the summit were in excess of 40 MPH in the morning. With the sub-zero temps, I decided to wait until later in the day to attempt to tackle the mountain. Around noon time I noticed the summit temps had gotten up to around 10 degrees, but the winds hadn't really died down. I figured I would make my way up to treeline and turn around if the weather was too nasty.

After purchasing a trail ticket at the Great Glen Trails office, I headed up from the traditional road race start. I was geared up with a "heavy" pack which included 20 oz. of water with Nuun tabs, 2 mini Larabars, digital camera, Epic Wide head-mounted video camera and a cell phone all stuffed in my Mini-Mule CamelBak. I was wearing running tights, running pants, poly pro short sleeve and long sleeve shirts, wind jacket, thick running socks, Inov8 RocLite 295 trails shoes, Dion 121 running snowshoes and hat and gloves. The clothing wasn't anymore that I wear on a normal winter run.

My goal for this run was to try to stay comfortable for the first few miles, then pick up the effort as I climbed higher. I didn't want to dig myself into a hole early, then bonk above treeline. I was able to stash my hat and gloves and unzip my jacket while I was running below treeline and out of the wind. As soon as I hit the halfway point I bundled back up.

After rounding the Horn (4 mile mark) the winds picked up, but I didn't find them to be too bad. It was actually a tailwind, which helped my progress up my least favorite part of the road, the dirt grade from 4.5-5 miles. The road at Cragway was mostly exposed. I tried to stay on snow and ice as much as possible so I wouldn't break a cleat on the side of the mountain.

As I rounded Cragway I was greeted by the Mt. Washington Observatory's Sno-Cat on it's way down on shift-change day. They seemed to be having a good time, and so was I as I ascended on the packed snow. Not long after passing to outbound Obs crew I ran into a tough headwind. It almost stopped me in my tracks a few times. I was starting to debate turning around, but the wind eased up as I passed the 6 mile mark.

The nice tailwind reappeared as I made my way up the hairpin before the Cow Pasture. My jacket acted as a sail as I started crunching along on the icy road. The Cow Pasture was a skating rink that had partially been broken up by the Obs tractor. At this point the wind was coming across the road and blowing me from one side to the other. This was one of those "What the hell am I doing here?!" moments. The wind subsided as I got some shelter as I started climbing again.

As I looked at my watch near the 7 mile mark I knew I would have a chance to break 90 minutes if I started to boogie. Boogie above treeline in 40 MPH winds means 10 minute pace. I put my head down and crossed the icy expanses that are the upper parking lots in winter. The wall was almost unrunnable, but the cleats on my Dions grabbed enough to get me up. I crossed the road race finish line in 1:31:13, 8 minutes and 41 seconds faster than my time from the winter of 2007. I think it was a little windier today as the Mt. Washington Observatory's records for yesterday showed an air temperature of 9 degrees and wind speeds between 35-50 MPH while I was on the summit. Brrr.

After crossing the finish line I pulled a Dunham and hit the summit in 1:32. I took a few photos with not another soul in site. After snapping a few more photos I took shelter in the entrance way of the Sherman Adams Building. I wasn't too hungry, so I had 1 Larabar and about 10 oz. of water. It was nice to get out of the wind for a few minutes. As I refueled, a worker for the State Park and/or Obs was finishing some maintenance work and asked me if I had a light for the way down. I'm guessing he was wondering how I was going to make it down before nightfall if I was just reaching the summit at 3:15 PM.

The trip down was interesting as the winds started to pick up and I knew I had a good 3.5 miles of running before I hit treeline. The first 0.6 miles down was pretty brutal (see video Part 1). I had to ball up my hands inside of my gloves to keep my fingers warm. That was the only time my fingers got cold though as my EMS Powerstretch Gloves kept my hands warm during the majority of my run. Running across the Cow Pasture was a treat again, and mysteriously the tailwind I had on the way up the hairpin was now a headwind. Go figure. The wind subsided for the rest of the run and I was somewhat sheltered by the mountain in some spots. I snapped some photos at Cragway and got a nice panorama of Great Gulf from just above the 4000 ft. mark.

The run down below treeline was pretty mind-numbing as usual, but I knew I was safe from the wind at this point. I was dropping sub-8 minute miles at this point just to get to the bottom.

The numbers:
Road Race Time: 1:31:13 (12:00 pace)
Splits 1 (0.9 miles): 10:23 (11:32 pace)
2: 11:40
3: 11:44
4: 11:46
5: 12:20
6: 13:19
7: 12:39
0.7: 7:24 (10:34 pace)
To Summit: :47
Down: 1:04:06 (8:26 pace)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race

Despite Mr. Wiles suggestion to become a pen pal with an 11 year old Amish boy, I'll post a report of my race at Kingman Farm. I have been looking forward to this race for a couple of years when I first heard about a nighttime snowshoe race and the fact that it was being held at UNH's Kingman Farm. I spent a lot of time running there in my college days.

Last year's race was turned into a trail race due to lack of snow, but that wasn't a problem with this year's edition. The snow was "transformed" as nordic skiers would say. What was mashed potatoes two days earlier was bullet proof hardpack for the race. There would be no floundering in knee deep powder on this night.

After talking with Double J this week it sounded like he wouldn't be at Kingman due to doubling at Beaver Brook and Hallockville. I shouldn't have been surprised to see him as I came out of Best Buy in Newington. I think he was headed to the Taco Bell at the Fox Run food court for a little pre-race meal. Jim, DD and I headed out on the course for a warm-up. I'm glad I had a chance to see the whole course, because I would need every advantage I could get for this one.

The start area was a little narrow, and from our warm-up I knew the entire course, including the finish area would be this way. I'd much rather have tight singletrack than wide groomed trail. This was the best of both worlds though as the course was winding, but the snow was hard and fast. Knowing that Jim had raced in the morning, I decided to put the hammer down right from the gun to try to wear out his legs. After a mile I still hadn't lost him, but I kept the pressure on. As we hit the fields I still wasn't opening the gap and couldn't run all out as the course snaked back and forth. I decided to conserve a little energy here knowing that the big climb up Hicks Hill was still ahead.

As we left the field I started to push the pace a little. I opened the tiniest gap on the first small incline, but Jim was still just a few seconds back. I tried to push hard going up Hicks Hill but still wasn't opening a gap with all the switchbacks. I was pretty much gassed as we hit the summit, but I had to keep pushing knowing that this was one of the few good passing zones.

I was a little worried about the downhill on the warm-up, knowing how good Jim is on the descents. There were quite a few switchbacks here, but it was still pretty fast. I was grabbing trees on a few of the sharper ones, and I took a sapling like an alpine race gate on one corner. Through all of this Jim was still right on my heels. It was a flashback of the downhill at Great Glen last year, including Jim taking a digger. On the second minor ascent of Hicks Hill I heard him go down hard. I yelled back to make sure he was OK, then put the hammer down :-). Unfortunately for me, Jim was back on my heals instantly.

After the last downhill switchback the course flattened out and I could start to see the headlamps of volunteers at the last 90 degree left hand corner. I knew I had to start sprinting and make myself as wide as possible. If I got passed here, there would be no passing back. I managed to stay in front of Jim through the last corner, then was able to "power away" to a two second win. I was tasting pennies at the finish line. Both Jim and I were working pretty hard, but I think Jim still had another gear. I was holding him up, but he had no way to get around. It looks my strategy got me a win instead of my fitness.

After the race I got in a nice bonk-inducing cool down with Jim, Ryan Welts, Bob Jackman and Dave Principe. DD was doing a warm down with us. It was cool to run the roads that I used to run so often back in my college days. At the post-race awards I picked up some homemade goodies and a 6-pack of Red Hook Mud Slinger Nut Brown Ale. Chris Dunn put on another great, unique race. I believe this was the first time I've ever raced with a headlamp, despite the fact that most of my winter training is of the nighttime variety.

Jess and I topped off a great day by getting some slices at DHOP in Durham. Buffalo chicken + bacon = best combo ever.

Neat video of the start by Gianina Lindsey:

Also, check out the video from Thursday's NH Chronicle feature about snowshoe racing in NH:

Sunday, February 13, 2011


This will be a short post, but the point of it is that this blog is going to change a little. I have come to the realization that my online habits are becoming a huge time suck. I have always spent a lot of time on the internet, but my lack of motivation to do any thing worth wile lately has been in part related to the amount of time I spend reading and posting about the things I want to do instead of doing them. I'm closing my Facebook account and hoping to post to this blog a little less, but have more interesting posts. I don't know if my 30 mile a week exploits are very interesting to anyone, and they certainly take up way too much time. I'm hoping to still post about cool runs, workouts and races, but also include my thoughts about various subjects about running and the outdoors as they come to me.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Training Week 2/7-2/13

M- 0 At least I'm consistent.

Tu- 5.1 with Roger in 1:01:51 on Bear Notch Rd. Good to get back out. 630 ft. gain.

W- 15.0 in 2:08:26 from Jericho Lake in Berlin on snowmobile trails. 3.0 warm-up in 29:36, then 12.0 tempo in 1:38:49 (8:14 pace). The goal for this run was to run about marathon pace effort, which usually translates to 6:00-6:30 pace on packed snowmobile trails, but I was sinking about an inch or two on every step. I thought about bagging the workout after the warm-up, but I figured it was effort based, so I would give it a try. I was a little worried that I didn't run hard enough based on pace, until I tried to get out of bed this morning. I'm hoping a run like this will make me tough as nails, even if it doesn't translate to a fast time at something like New Bedford. 1200 ft. gain.

Th- 5.2 with Roger in Bartlett Village in 1:13:17. We started going up the Mt. Langdon Trail which was packed by snowshoers, but after a mile it was less consolidated, so we hits the roads and snowmobile trails. 450 ft gain.

F- Treadmill Hillclimb Progression Run. 2 mi wu, then 5.5 miles @ 11.5% grade in 50 minutes, starting 1st mile at 10:00 pace, then 9:30, 9:05, 8:40, 8:30, then last 0.5 mile @ 8:00 pace. The last 0.5 mile was tough, but as long as I stayed focused it was manageable. 1.0 cd. I averaged 9:00 pace for the 5.5 miles which works out to a sub 1:09 up Washington. Maybe I'm finally getting my climbing legs back. It was also 69 degrees in the gym, but I handled the heat pretty well. 3300 ft of gain.

Sa- 1:25 classic skiing w/ Jess in Prospect Farm in Jackson. Nice easy ski to loosen things up. Was planning on a run too, but a true easy day isn't all bad.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Training Week 1/31-2/6

M- 5.0 easy on treadmill in 46:00. Right hip a little sore from running on snowmobile trails. Didn't feel like running outside after working outside all day.

Tu- 4.3 miles on the snowy roads with Roger in 47:27, then 5 x 1 mile on snowshoes in Whitaker Woods with 3:00 rest. 7:26 7:26 7:29 7:29 7:32. This workout is supposed to serve the same purpose as the 6 x 1 mile I was doing last winter. Not all out, but around half marathon effort. On groomed terrain I ran 7:00 average for the Whitaker Woods race, so 7:30 seemed reasonable. I was definietly getting a little tired/sloppy by the end. 0.25 mile cool down. I hate cool downs.

W- Got out of work early and headed up to Pinkham Notch. Did two laps of Tucks/Sherbie. 1st lap on skis: 62 minutes up, 19 minutes down (a lot of it on my ass). 2nd lap on snowshoes: 44 minutes up, 21 minutes down (Tucks Trail). The whole thing was a lot of fun. I was definitely tired the 2nd time up, and borderline bonking on the way down, but great fun to plow through a foot of fresh powder. I took video with my head cam, but something didn't work right and I only got sound.

2:26:45 total, 9 miles, 3800 ft gain (4.8 running, 1900 ft gain)

Th- 4.3 in 45:50 with Roger on snowy roads. Ran easy.

F- 6.0 up and down Black Cap in 1:07:52. The plan was to get in a hard hillclimb workout on the snowmobile trails. Unfortunately the trails were a little softer than I hoped and I wasn't wearing snowshoes. I was hoping for something in the 9-10 minute pace range, but it took me 39:06 (13:03 pace) to cover the 3 mile, 1700 ft climb. I realized that pace would be out the window early, so I made it my goal to make my quads hurt the whole time. I did just that.

Panorama from Whitton Ledge at work on Friday

Sa- 0 DOWNHILL skied with Jess at Sunday River. I had plenty if time for a run, but didn't make it happen.

Jess at the top of North Peak at Sunday River

Su- 0 Downhill skied for a couple hours solo in the morning and planned to run long in the afternoon. Got dressed, but couldn't get myself out the door. Downhill skiing takes more out of me than xc skiing.

Totals: 30.7 miles, 6.78 hours, 3600 ft gain. No comment.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Training Week 1/24-1/30

M- 7.0 miles on the treadmill in 1:17. 1st mile flat in 10:00, then 5.6 miles @ 10% grade @11:06 pace, then 0.4 miles at 10:00 pace. Quads felt like tree trunks after yesterday's run. 3000 ft gain.

Tu- AM: 3.2 miles in 30:00. Aborted workout. Was planning on 1 mi wu in 10:00, then 9:30 pace at 12% grade, cutting the pace down :30 per mile every half mile. Made it a mile before my quads quit on me. Jogged a cd after. I'll try this later in the week. Quads are still shot from all the downhill on Sunday. 630 ft gain.

PM: 5.3 miles in 43:39 on the roads from home. 10 strides in the last 1.5 miles. Quads still sore, but better than this morning. Worked outside for about 4 hours today and it was COLD. 3*F when I left the office.

W- 8.2 miles in 1:14:26 on snowmobile trails, first 4.4 w/ Paul. Legs feel better than yesterday, but I think I dug myself into a little bit of a hole on that long run on Sunday. If you play with fire you're bound to get burned once in a while.

Th- 4.5 miles on treadmill in 45:00. Aborted workout AGAIN. Legs felt much better at start, but as I picked up the grade, I couldn't maintain pace. Ran 2 miles at 8:30 pace for a warm-up, then 11.5% @ 9:30 pace for 1 mile, then 9:00 pace for 0.5 miles. Felt like poop at 9:00 pace so took a 0.5 mi jog at 0% grade, then back up to 11.5% grade, but couldn't hold on. Planned on putting in some easy miles after, but the treadmill started acting up and I was in too pissy of a mood to move to another one. 1250 ft. gain.

F- 4.6 miles on the Corridor 19 snowmobile trail in 38:26. Felt a lot better and wanted to go longer, but thought I should play it safe with how I have been feeling and a big race coming up the next day. 5 strides near end.

Crossing the bridge with 1/2 mile to go, Photo by Krissy Kozlosky

Sa- Sandwich Sidehiller 4 Mile Snowshoe Race, 1st 31:48, 5th straight win here. I am pretty happy with how the race went. I knew the snow was a little choppy and would be tough going which plays to my strengths, but this was a tough race right from the start. I am pretty sure I punched through the snow on every step. Double J got out to an early lead on the groomed ski trails and I just tried to keep him in sight. I was already working hard early in the race just to maintain distance, let alone make up ground. As we crossed Bean Rd. I was in 3rd place behind Wes Dinnan.

Crossing Bean Rd. on the way out, Photo by Joe Viger

As I slowly worked my way up to him he allowed me to pass and told me to "go get him." The singletrack in the woods was a little more consolidated and the hills were helping me close the gap on Jim. The upper fields were a mess, as much of the snowmobile track had been postholed. I just kept thinking "keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don't let him get away." This seemed to work as I really started closing the gap on the lower fields on the way back. As we entered the woods again I was right on Jim's tail on the downhill, and knew he was having a rough time if I could hang with him on the downhill. As we made the left-hand turn to go up the sidehill, Jim let me by and gave me some encouragement. This was the same place I passed him two years ago in our epic battle.

Flailing down the hill with Double J in tow, Photo by Joe Viger

I tried to open up as a big of a gap as I could, because I knew there was still some downhill left and the last 1/4 mile plus is on groomed ski trail. I hammered with everything I had and tried not to wipe out coming down the last hill and crossing back over Bean Rd. As I made the final turn onto the ski trails I gave it all I had as I could hear the road crossing workers cheer for Jim not too far behind me. I probably looked like a fish gasping for air, floundering in the sugary snow as I neared the finish line. I crossed the line in 31:48, about 8 seconds slower than 2008 and 6 seconds up on Jim. I was completely spent at the finish. After catching my wind, Jim and I did interviews for Channel 9's NH Chronicle, which is suppose to air in a couple of weeks.

Caught by the camera crew, Photo by Krissy Kozlosky

Great job by Paul Kirsch and the Sandwich Sidehillers for putting on a great race. This race had 16 finishers a few years ago and had 108 yesterday. There were a lot of spectators out and the course was great as usual. I love the road crossing and all the spectators and volunteers cheering you on.

3.0 wu, no cd

Krissy Kozlosky's Photos
Joe Viger's Photos
Animoto video by Joe Viger

Su 18.4 miles in 2:59:39 from Paul's house. Ran the first 7 with him in 1:14 (10:34 pace), then went back out and ran another 11.4 miles in 1:45:21 (9:14 pace). Pretty tired, but a solid way to end the week. 2500 ft. of gain.

Totals: 58.2 miles, 9.00 hours, 7380 ft gain. Decent week. A little pissed that I wore myself out with last week's long run, which killed my workouts, but I recovered and got in some climbing and some volume. I'm really happy with the race. This race is usually one of the highlights of my year, and this year was no exception. I hoping it's a sign of things to come. I'm planning on running at Snowshoe Nationals in Wisconsin in March. I'm hoping to move up into the top 5 this year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Training Week 1/17-1/23

M- 6.0 up and down Black Cap via Hurricane Mt. Rd. on snowshoes 1:02:23, 36:47 to the summit, nice run under a close to full moon. 5x80m strides after, 1700 ft gain.

Tu- 4.1 miles at Settlers Green with Roger in the snow. No motivation to go any further or do a workout.

W- 9.8 miles of skiing on the Pemi East Side Trail in the Pemi Wilderness in 3:44:38. Broke a lot of trail (10 inches of fresh snow) and made it to the Cedar Brook Trail junction. Was originally planning on skiing for two hours and snowshoe running for two hours, but I was having fun skiing.

Th- 0 This means I'll have a sub 1:10 at New Bedford for sure.

F- AM: 4.6 in 51:41 on the snowmobile trails with Paul, Dave and Laura
PM: 2 hours (hiking) marking the WW course

Sa- Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble 3rd place 28:08, 1:15 behind Double J. Directing a race and running it at the same time is not an easy thing to do. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to race a fun course. The lack of a warm-up definitely hurt me, but Jim was gone on the fast groomed trails. There were some issues with the course markings, which I will address next year. Overall, I think everyone had a good time, especially the TNT crew at the Moat after! Thanks to everyone who raced and volunteered. looking forward to doing it again next year.

Panorama from Mt. Shaw

Su- 28.2 miles in 4:38:32 (9:53 pace) on the Corridor 15 snowmobile trail in the Ossipee Mountains. Somewhere between 4600-6000 ft of elevation gain (see profile of second half of out and back). This was a pretty cool run that I've thought about doing for a while. It's the long way up 2,990' Mt. Shaw. I was hoping to make it to the Castle in the Clouds, but I hit my turnround time about 2 miles early. Hopefully I can try it again another day.

Totals: 46.9 miles, 11.5 hours, 6700 feet gain

Monday, January 10, 2011

Training Week 1/10-1/16

M- 15 minutes on the stationary bike. Lungs and throat still not feeling up to running outside, so I thought I'd try the bike. What a mind numbing piece of equipment that is.

Tu- 3.3 miles with Roger at Settlers Green. Must have walked 3 miles up and down a small mountain at work today.

W- 3.9 miles in 58:27 on snowshoes going up Rattlesnake Mt. in 8-10" of fresh powder. I love snowshoe running. Lungs feeling a little better. 400 ft gain

Th- AM: 4.0 miles up Rattlesnake again in 54:40. Made it 0.2 miles farther up, but the run took 4 minutes less after packing down the deep snow. 600 ft gain
PM: 2.0 in 28:24 with Roger at Whitaker Woods. This was Roger's first snowshoe run!

F- 5.4 miles up and down Rattlesnake in 1:18:04. I made it to the summit this time! (45:13). Thanks to Tim Livingston who packed out the rest of it on a hike yesterday. 3 strides on groomed trails near end. 1200 ft gain

Sa- Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race, 2nd by 9 seconds (38:04) to Josh Ferenc. We battled back and forth with me leading the ups and him the downs. He caught me with about 1/4 mile to go and I had no response. I am in good climbing shape, but need to get stronger. Only 45 seconds slower than last year on a slightly longer course in much slower conditions. 2.0 wu, 2.3 cd, 1200 ft gain

Su AM: 12.1 miles on the snowmobile trails around Silver Lake in 2:12 with Paul. It felt good to get out on the groomed trails again. We were planning on a 6 mile / 60 min out and back, but were having too much fun to turn around. I was planning on 3 hours, but knew I still had skiing ahead of me.
PM: 1:51 of classic skiing at Jackson w/ Jess. Nice and easy.

Totals: 39.0 miles, 9.8 hours, 3400 ft gain. Glad to finally get the volume up. Not a lot of miles, but snowshoeing is slow and takes some time to cover the distance. It was a little risky racing on Saturday after fighting the head cold and not doing any workouts in over a week, but glad I did it. This week I need to concentrate on getting out every day and getting the workouts in. I'm looking forward to hotsing (and hopefully racing) the snowshoe race at Whitaker Woods this coming Saturday.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Moving Forward

Below is an example of how NOT to spend two weeks training if you have any type of goals. My training log looks like a yo-yo right now.


M-AM: 3.5 snow roads with Matt Lunt and Mike Lansing 32:45, nice to finally have some snow!
PM: 4.8 on snowshoes in the backyard (160 acres of condo common land and neighbors' woods lots) 53:40
most of the trails had been tracked out. I don't run out here enough. I need to work on some making loops though as most of the trails dead end at neighbors houses. I tried out the new heart rate monitor that Jess got me for Christmas. Interesting watching the heart rate spike on the 3 strides I did near the end!

Tu-AM: 11.4 miles on snowshoes, 3.6 wu then 1:02:50 for a 7.8 mile tempo on the Whitaker Woods snowshoe course. HR between 160 and 180 for the whole tempo while running 8:03 pace!
PM: 5.0 easy at Settlers Green with Roger, 54:02

W- 3.9 on snowshoes in 45:00 with Jim Mitchell, including some running on the Cathedral Ledge Rd.

Th- 3.2 at Settlers Green with Roger, felt like JUNK, cut it short

F- 0 long day of field work on Foss Mt., then headed to Portland for New Years Eve with Jess.

Sa- 0 stayed out late, but didn't drink and felt like death all day

Su- 0 spent the day on the couch, not sick but not feeling up for anything

Totals: 31.8 miles, 5.24 hours


M- 10.0 on Bretton Woods snowmobile trails in 1:23:50 using the Inov8 Oroc 280s, hamstrings a little tight, 10x80m strides on pavement after, 1000 ft gain

Tu-AM: 10.6 miles in 1:14:04, first 2.4 miles wu, then fartlek for 8.2 miles at 6:36 pace. Doesn't sound impressive, but this was at 6AM over a course that included 660 feet of elevation gain!
PM: 3.6 miles easy with Roger in North Conway

W- 0 felt a head cold coming on, decided to play is safe and take a 0

Th- 5.0 easy with Roger at Settlers Green in 50:32, throat felt better, for a day.

F- 0 another cruddy day in the cold department

Sa- 0 pissy mood with this head cold

Su- AM: 6.1 with Paul from his house. I love running on crusty/icy/snow/leafy mixed trails
PM: 1:48 classic skiing with Jess at Bretton Woods

Totals: 35.3 miles, 7.0 hours

Now that I have that out of my system, goals for 2011: have fun, run well in some mountain races (i.e. finish Mt. Washington, top 10 at Cranmore), run first ultra at White River 50 miler in July and try to have a more positive outlook about running. Right now I'm not setting any time or place goals for my big races. I've done a great job the last couple of years of getting in good shape before my races and tanking once they come, leaving me disappointed and unsatisfied with my running and life afterward. My running and my life are a little different than they were 5+ years ago when I graduated from college. I have already accomplished a lot of things that I never would have dreamed of by my 29th birthday (Jan 7th). I'm married to a beautiful, smart woman who also has the patience to put up with me, a pretty good career that challenges me intellectually and physically and gives me the financial freedom to do all the fun things in life without worrying where my next meal is coming from. I also have a great family that has supported me in whatever I have done. There is definitely a hole there since my Dad passed away this summer, but I was lucky to spend 28+ years of my life with him, even if we didn't always get along. My Dad always supported me in my running or skiing, or any other endeavor I decided to pursue. He was always there when I needed a little encouragement to get me through the tough times.

I hope to remember him by raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association by trying to run 3000 miles this year. If anyone is interested in pledging a penny a mile, that's a $30 donation. I know some of my friends have already pledged and I greatly appreciate it. I'm already behind on my goal a week into the year, but I'm dedicated to doing this.

2010 totals: 2337.50 miles, 374.77 hours (6.4 miles per day, 62 minutes per day)